In Spring 2016, Shamus Roeder (17BSE, 17BS, 19MS), an undergraduate student at the time studying physiology and biomedical engineering, was walking along T. Anne Cleary Parkway when he saw a sign advertising Iowa JPEC’s Iowa Startup Games, a three-day, team-based pitch competition. He had an idea swirling around in his head, so he decided to take a chance and sign up. Although his idea didn’t work, this opportunity opened many doors for him within the entrepreneurial community at The University of Iowa.

After participating in Iowa Startup Games, he got involved in other Iowa JPEC programs. He was a student intern for a business going through the Hawkeye Startup Accelerator and helped that team reach first place. Soon after a new idea popped in his head. That idea would lead to the creation of ABAL Therapeutics, a tablet-based platform that helped make autism therapy scalable.

Shamus and his team went on to win numerous competitions in the state of Iowa and placed third in the International Business Model Competition in 2017. As he completed his master’s degree in Spring 2019, Shamus and his team made the difficult decision to shut down this startup endeavor, but it didn’t leave him empty handed.

“When it came to getting my first real world job, even though I didn’t have a formal engineering internship, all this startup experience made up for that,” Shamus said. “Although my startup endeavor didn’t work out, it was definitely something that set me apart from other engineers when applying for jobs.”

Shamus’s startup experience and ability to understand customer needs made him a standout candidate at Intelligent Automation, Inc., a research and development firm in the Washington DC area. This innovative company usually hires PhD graduates for these roles but due in large part to his entrepreneurial background, Shamus landed a role as a Biomedical Research Engineer for the award-winning company. Intelligent Automation has been recognized and awarded for their excellence and commitment to deliver high quality results to their clients. Some of their customers include National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The company where Shamus works, Intelligent Automation, cultivates an entrepreneurial mindset among its staff, and he fit the position perfectly. He has now worked for this company for a little over a year and has already made an impact. Shortly after he was hired, he had an idea for a project modeling neck pain in naval pilots using the biopsychosocial model of pain. The project was accepted, funded, and has been delivered to a customer.

“The most valuable thing JPEC provided was a safe space, or playground, to dip my toes in the water in regard to entrepreneurship. If JPEC hadn’t provided all these opportunities, I probably wouldn’t have given my idea a try. Even though I’m not currently running my own company, the opportunities and experiences I had directly impacted my progress and where I’m at now.”